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Korea now world’s 17th biggest donor: OECD

Korea’s development aid to poor countries grew to make the country the 17th largest donor in the world, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Thursday.

Korea is one of only seven among the 23 members of the OECD to up its aid for poorer nations in the past year. The crisis in Europe and sluggish business sentiment across the globe has seen foreign aid take a hit in many countries.

The Korean government in 2011 spent $1.32 billion on official development aid, up 5.8 percent from 2010. The top five donors were the U.S., Germany, Britain, France and Japan. The total amount of ODA reported to the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD last year was $135.5 billion.

Korea’s Finance Ministry, which oversees the country’s ODA programs, said it remains committed to aid programs to help the needy in the developing world. The country’s ODA divided by its gross national income stood at 0.12 percent, making Korea the 22nd donor in relation to economic size.

The OECD report said foreign assistance among wealthy nations dropped 2.7 percent in 2011 and attributed the cause to the downturn in the European economy, which is the world’s largest source of foreign aid.

“The fall of ODA is a source of great concern, coming at a time when developing countries have been hit by the knock-on effect of the crisis and need it most,” said Angel Gurria, the OECD’s secretary general.

“Aid is only a fraction of total flows to low-income countries, but these hard economic times also mean lower investment and lower exports. I commend the countries that are keeping their commitments in spite of tough fiscal consolidation plans. They show that the crisis should not be used as an excuse to reduce development co-operation contributions.”

By Cynthia J. Kim (